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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pet Peeve

If you've ever wondered why US federal spending is so out of control let's take a look at this interesting research:

Here we have a very detailed study on the dangers presented by your pet.

(Recently I talked a bit about death on this blog in "The Risk of the Cure".)

So our CDC, in this report, says:

"In the Netherlands, the pet population is ≈2 million dogs and 3 million cats... The percentage of households with pets increased from 50% in 1999 to 55% in 2005. A recent study indicated that among 159 households with pets, 50% of pet owners interviewed allowed the pet to lick their face; 60% of pets visited the bedroom; 45% of dogs and 62% of cats were allowed on the bed; and 18% and 30% of the dogs and cats, respectively, were allowed to sleep with the owner in bed..."

It goes on to discuss the French (only about 25% have pets there).

The French, the Dutch?  No talk of us here in the good old USA where we're paying for this report.

Next we are treated to a discourse about plague.

That's right, bubonic plague (ring around the rosey and all), and how 9 people died in the western US in 1974.

That's right, 1974...  forty years ago.

(The incident of plague in the USA is about 1 one 30,222,221 according to this - so on average some 11 or 12 people are infected a year.  Infection has a death rate of 50% - 90% if untreated, 15% if treated.  So we would expect about one death per year.)

The article goes on to discuss how some half of the plague survivors slept in the same bed as their dog.


Today most uneducated people understand that plague is transmitted by fleas - not dogs.  Though dogs have been known to transport fleas from time to time.  But fleas infest other mammals as well - like deer, humans, and cats.

So if rover carries around plague-carrying fleas and he sleeps in your bed then well, you might get the plague...

Your chance of being killed by lightening is about 70 times greater than this.

Your chance of being killed by texting or cell phone usage in your car even higher.

The article then goes on to address what might happen if your pet licks your face (actually you have to have a saliva transfer so licking your face or kissing you would be more accurate).  Various bacterial infections and parasites - some very nasty to be sure.

Some of the more notable ones mentioned in the article:

Cat scratch fever, mentioned in the article, infects about 22,000 US children per year though deaths are extremely rare.

Rabies - enough said.

So what's the point of the government telling us about the danger our pets present?

There are hundreds of millions of pets in the USA.

Each year very, very few pets deliberately harm their masters (see this).

Bottom line (according to the article)...

- Don't let small children sleep with pets because they are full of germs and parasites. 

- Wash the children with germ killer if the pet licks them. 

- Keep the pet free of fleas.


Even though pets kill far, far US citizens than, say lightning (750 a year) or trichinosis (less than 12), the author apparently needs to whip up fear and worry.

Common sense keeps the dog and cat out of the babies room (at least hopefully and if it doesn't its not the kids fault but the parents - not the pet).

So why is this report being done by the CDC (Center for Disease Control - is my pet a disease)?  What's the point?

Are these remarkable conclusions (common sense) worth the no doubt tens of thousands of dollars to write and publish the report?

Pets are far, far safer than cell phones (cell phone caused traffic deaths number around 3,000 a year currently).

No one is banning cell phones yet (though they are trying - at least while you drive).

Why is the CDC concerned about everyday pet issues?  Sure I can see them caring about a widespread rabies outbreak but they don't - when we had one by my house they were no where to be found.  No one in plastic space suites showed up with trucks carrying dish antennas.  No one with "detectors" going "beep beep beep" to find dangerous things...  No one.

Articles like the one I mention are designed to do one thing.  Scare you into not having a pet or, if you do, slathering your child with antiseptic cleaner all the time - where's the article on the dangers of that?

Why does my government need to scare me about my pet?

I imagine that the death of a pet is far more traumatic than anything a pet might do.

Now you tell me...

Which is scarier?  The government or your pet...

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